Sunday, 4 January 2015

Old Dog, New Tricks...Sprue Cutters Union #30

Howdy wargamers and hobbyists, welcome to 2015 and the return of the Sprue Cutters Union. It's been a few months since the Sprue Cutters last rode onto the field, but as I threatened at the end of last year...we're back!

I'd like to start by saying that I have certainly been looking forward to reinvigorating the Sprue Cutters Union posts, and its return is all the work of Jon over at The Combat Workshop, who does a sterling job of running the show and keeping us all inspired with blog topics, even around his own real life demands, so thank you Jon.

The Sprue Cutters Union posts will hence forth be a monthly emission, so on with this month's topic:

What New Products/Techniques Will You Purchase/Attempt This Year?

Well well well, what kind of things will I be trying out this of all years, when I have set myself the resolution of painting up a minimum of 250 models before the end of 2015? I think it would certainly make sense for most of my efforts this year to be in support of that painting goal, and in order to achieve that goal there is one thing I need to get much better at.

Quite simply, I need to paint faster.

So then, when you are a wargamer with hordes of infantry,  cavalry, monsters and vehicles to paint, what does painting fast entail? Well the first thing I have to talk about is the standard of painting I want to end up with.

Malorian said it pretty well in his recent YouTube video about speed painting: you can get a model painted in about five minutes flat if you stick to no more than three colours and don't bother with any of the details, and with practice you can end up with a model that looks like what it is meant to represent from the extreme limit of battle cannon range - 72", or six feet. I however have spent many years building up my painting skills to the point they are at now, which I consider to be nearing the top end of tabletop standard.

This means I think my painting is better than what someone might achieve if they just rush out models as quickly and simply as possible, but they fall short of competition standard. That's just my opinion though; everyone has to judge for themselves whether they are happy with the work they are producing. 

My hope is to maintain a standard that I would be not be embarrassed to field on the table, but quick enough to keep to my schedule of about twenty models per month. It may be the case that further down the line I come back and take the fine details and highlights to the next level, but initially I would like to get caught up on the huge backlog of unpainted miniatures I own.

So what do I already know about painting quickly? Well, I know how to batch paint, I'm just not all that fast at it. What I want to look at this year is how to speed up the process, so what I plan on doing is experimenting with different coloured undercoat/basecoat sprays.

Until now, I have almost always undercoated my models in either black or white spray, usually black. Now this is pretty much the norm. Long gone are the days of undercoating miniatures by hand with a brush. What I want to explore now is the concept of using sprays to base coat miniatures in their 'dominant colour', and then simply add some details afterwards to get a result I am happy with in a much shorter time. I want to veer away from spray undercoating black and then painting 70% of a model brown when I can just spray the model brown to begin with and take it from there.

Hopefully, if I use my Orks and Bretonnian peasants as an example, I can spray base coat them brown, then just paint the skin areas and weapons, give the various areas a wash to shade, finish the base and call it done. My Tyranids too: spray them blue, apply a quick drybrush highlight, a wash to shade - done. That's the plan anyway.

So what else can I do to speed things up? One thing I can certainly do is give more careful consideration to my colour selection when painting models. In the past I have quite happily spent time mixing colours to get just the shade I want for a model, but when I'm meant to be knocking out models quicker, that is just too time consuming to maintain. From here on in I plan to implement a strict policy of no mixing of colours, unless it's just for a single session of highlighting and that's it. No coming back to the painting table and spending valuable time re-mixing a shade I used last session. If it can't go on the shade it is straight from the pot, it doesn't get used.

Anything else? Well, the last thing I plan to do is less a technique and more a motivational tool. I need to make sure I maintain consistency because I am working to a schedule, and each month I miss the target of twenty models means that much more of a hard time I will have on the home stretch at the back end of the year to meet my goal. I plan to maintain the pace by running pretty much back to back painting challenges online, because they are a great way to ensure that I get at least some painting done pretty much every day. Little and often, that's the way I find gets results, without sapping my will to live.

To summarise then, new things I am going to do this year to help speed up my painting:

1. Buy and use coloured spray paints to base coat miniatures in their dominant colour wherever possible.

2. Avoid mixing colours to produce other shades, because it takes too long. Instead, use colours as they are out of the pot, and if I don't have a colour I really want to use - buy it!

3. Limit the number of levels of detail I go to while I bring my collection to a basic but respectable tabletop standard. I can always come back later on and spend more time on them at my leisure.

4. Don't drop the batton! Do whatever I need to to maintain the pace; paint a bit every day whenever possible, aim for twenty models per month, take part in painting challenges and change it up between armies and units to avoid getting bored of painting the same thing for too long.

There it is then, the new things I will be trying this year to accomplish another new thing and get a record number of miniatures painted before the end of the year.

Feel free to drop me a comment below to tell me about any new techniques or products you plan on trying out this year.

If you want some inspiration, you could do much worse than check out the links below to the blogs of other Sprue Cutters Union members, and to the Topic Hub over at The Combat Workshop where members will post their links after mine goes up.

Check these out:

And finally, if you yourself write any kind of miniature modelling blog, then perhaps you would like to consider joining the Union? All it takes is the dedication to produce one article per month on the topic of the moment, and include links to other members articles at the bottom of your own post as I have done. All you need to do is keep an eye on The Combat Workshop or any of the member blogs for details of the next topic! Look here for more details.

As always, thanks for reading.

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